The next time your computer breaks down, you might have a serious choice to make. Do you go with the easy, familiar replacement? Or do you take a step into the future? That’s the essential choice you’ll have with your two choices: laptop or tablet.
It might not seem like much of a choice right now. Laptops can do thinks that tablets just cannot. But the gap will start closing soon. By the time you need a new portable computer, the tablet might be the best available choice.
The laptop’s last hurrah
Laptops have come a long way since the late 90s. Laptops existed before then, but they were big, heavy, clunky, and inefficient machines. But with technology taking a step forward in the 90s, laptops became more viable. They became smaller versions of desktops. That was great for consumers, because that made them familiar.
Yet it appears that laptops have reached the end of their evolutionary line. Just look at the latest line of Ultrabook laptops from Lenovo and tell me how laptops can get any better in their current forms. It appears that all the possible improvements have been made. These Ultrabooks are super thin, and it’s hard to imagine them getting any thinner.
Sure, manufacturers can supply higher resolution screens, faster processors, longer battery life, and higher capacity hard drives. But those are just incremental improvements. There really is no next step for laptops. They are at the end of their evolutionary line.
Tablets are the next step
Take a look again at those Ultrabooks. You can probably think of a few ways that manufacturers could redesign them, right? That is, to make them perform the same functions, but with a better form factor. If I were going to overhaul the laptop, I’d want to change the following things:
- Improve battery life
- Remove the hinge between the screen and keyboard
- Make it run more efficiently
- Change the point-and-click interface
I’d stop right there, of course, because it becomes obvious where this is going. Yes, the tablet is the next evolution of the laptop. We might not be ready to make that transition now, but it’s coming eventually. The revolution, apparently, has gotten an early start.
Tablets have far better battery lives, have no hinge, run more efficiently by using mobile operating systems, and use intuitive touchscreen interfaces. They’re also much thinner, since they requires fewer parts to function. Because there are no moving parts, they’re also more durable.
In these ways, tablets are the future of laptops.
Not ready yet
In their current forms, tablets simply aren’t ready to substitute for laptops. There are issues on two levels: functionality and compatibility.
In terms of functionality, tablets simply aren’t familiar to us yet. The widespread use of smartphones has helped, but in many ways people think of tablets as stretched out smartphones. Until people start to think about tablets as legitimate computing devices, they’ll remain entertainment devices.
Much of this is a matter of time. Once people get used to the more intuitive touchscreen interfaces, we’ll be a step closer. The hardware will also take further steps forward in the next few years, bringing tablets in line with laptop power. So while the new iPad might not replace your current laptop, perhaps the iPad released in 2014 will.
In terms of compatibility we have both positives and negatives. As mentioned above, the use of mobile operating systems over traditional desktop operating systems mean tablets operate more efficiently. That means they can run faster even though their clock speed is slower than a laptop’s. But the lack of compatibility with desktop software also plays against tablets.
The ability to use Microsoft Word on both a work computer and a laptop is an advantage. In fact, every application you have on your work computer you can also install on your laptop. Many developers have created tablet versions of popular applications, so we’re getting there. But it’s still not quire there.
If your laptop breaks right now, chances are you’re picking up another laptop to replace it. But in the future that might not be such an obvious choice. While Ultrabooks are good for now, since they’re new and an improvement on previous laptops, they are the end of the laptop evolutionary line. The next step is tablets. If your computer breaks in a year or so, you might consider one as your portable computer.
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